Or­lando City

Or­lando City falls short of three points

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali­cia DelGallo Staff Writer

puts to­gether one of its best of­fen­sive games of the sea­son, but it’s not enough to se­cure a vic­tory as the Li­ons play to a 3-3 draw with Alanta FC.

AT­LANTA — In July, de­bates raged about whether Or­lando City and ex­pan­sion side At­lanta United were ri­vals.

“Of course not! They haven’t even played yet,” was the gen­eral con­sen­sus, as fan bases bick­ered and an At­lanta bill­board went up in down­town Or­lando.

Satur­day af­ter­noon, as a record-break­ing an­nounced crowd of 70,425 packed Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium, there was lit­tle doubt the only two Ma­jor League Soc­cer teams in the south­east were clos­ing out a ri­valry se­ries.

Dom Dwyer scored his first and se­cond MLS goals and had an as­sist for Or­lando City (9-12-8, 35 points), but it wasn't enough to over­come At­lanta United (12-8-7, 43 points). A Josef Martínez hat trick that forced the Li­ons to set­tle for a 3-3 draw and a 0-1-2 se­ries record.

“Ob­vi­ously, our ob­jec­tive was to get three points here, as it will be now the rest of the way,” Or­lando City coach Ja­son Kreis said af­ter the match. “So to set­tle for a point is a lit­tle bit dis­heart­en­ing.”

But the per­for­mance, he thought, was bet­ter. The Li­ons now have five goals in the past two games when it took the pre­vi­ous six games to get that many.

The tit-for-tat scor­ing be­gan in the 10th minute when Donny Toia sent a long ball into the box, aimed right at Dwyer, who leapt over a de­fender for a header into the lower left cor­ner of the net.

Dwyer ran off to the right side of the pitch, bring­ing his hands to his mouth to cover a mas­sive grin as his team­mates em­braced him.

“I said he was go­ing to score this game,” fel­low striker Cyle Larin said. “He only scores in big games and he scored to­day.” Twice. Af­ter Martínez equal­ized in the 39th minute, Dwyer struck again three min­utes later. Li­ons mid­fielder An­to­nio No­cerino started the se­quence by tap­ping the ball wide to right back Scott Sut­ter, who crossed it to Dwyer for an­other header and a 2-1 lead en­ter­ing half­time.

Dwyer re­vealed lit­tle en­thu­si­asm about his ac­com­plish­ment af­ter the game, say­ing he’d pre­fer the elu­sive three points. He did, how­ever, go into the match want­ing to be the first per­son to score against At­lanta at the new sta­dium. United shut out FC Dal­las and New Eng­land in its first two games there.

“I just like to drift off the back line,” Dwyer said. “We got qual­ity de­liv­er­ies from our full­backs. They put it in the right spots, you just gotta go in there and take it.

“It’s good. We’ll build on it from to­day.”

Martínez equal­ized again in the 55th minute off an as­sist from Chris McCann, who started at left back for the first time this sea­son in place of an in­jured Greg Garza.

And again Or­lando City coun­tered three min­utes later. This time, Dwyer found Larin for a force­ful header to re­gain the lead.

A few sec­onds later, Li­ons cen­ter­back Jonathan Spec­tor, who re­turned from a knee in­jury to play for the first time in five weeks, felt pain and left the field. Léo Pereira re­placed him.

Be­fore he left, Spec­tor had some key tack­les — one that stopped a Miguel Almirón break-away in the first half — to briefly sti­fle the op­pos­ing at­tack.

At­lanta con­tin­ued to press and Martínez even­tu­ally found a third equal­izer in the 69th minute, earn­ing his se­cond hat trick in backto-back games. He now has 16 goals this sea­son.

“They’re prob­a­bly one of the bet­ter at­tack­ing teams in the league go­ing for­ward, so it was a good test for us,” Spec­tor said. “We han­dled it rel­a­tively well, for the most part. Ob­vi­ously giv­ing up three goals is far from ideal, but they put us un­der a lot of pres­sure.

“Just dis­ap­point­ing with the re­sult. I felt like we re­ally had ’em there.”

JOHN DAVID MERCER/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Or­lando City’s Dom Dwyer (left) cel­e­brates with team­mate Donny Toia af­ter one of his two goals against At­lanta United. Dwyer also had an as­sist on the Li­ons’ fi­nal goal.

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